COS 2021: Citizenship Education

Mr Leon Perera (Aljunied): Mr Chairman, during the COS debates in 2020, MOE announced that Character and Citizenship Education (CCE) would be refreshed, reinforcing the teaching of moral values increasing emphasis on mental health and cyber wellness, engaging students more actively in contemporary issues and being more integrated into subjects and activities. There is growing recognition that soft skills that are crucial for 21st century employees.

I am using soft skills here as a convenient broad shorthand for a number of skill-sets such as, firstly, critical thinking and problem solving which top the list of skills many employers believe will grow in prominence in the next five years.

Secondly, self-management such as active learning, resilience, stress tolerance and flexibility, all ranked highly in the World Economic Forum 2020 report.

And thirdly, resilience and curiosity, which are reported as priced by industry leaders.

The PISA 2018 results indicate two areas of concern for students in Singapore: adaptability to new challenges and the fear of failure.

Only half of our students said that they could deal with unusual situations compared to an OECD average of more than that. Over 70% expressed concern about failure versus the OECD average of just 50%.

How can our CCE curriculum help to plug these gaps? For one, we should cultivate some form of standardised measurement of soft skills, spanning not only tests but project work, classroom interaction and other work streams. After all, we need to build measures of success into our policies so as to ensure that in education, as in all domains, we are striving for outcomes and not just effort.

Hence, I would like to ask how does MOE intend to measure progress towards soft skill formation objectives in the CCE?

Next, I would to like to urge greater support for teachers to a progressive reduction in average form class sizes. This would better enable teachers to focus on pastoral care for students. Research has shown that smaller classes may stimulate non-cognitive skills or soft skills, a point I have made in my Parliamentary Adjournment Motion on the subject in 2017.

I would thus like to suggest that MOE pilot CCE classes and smaller class sizes to study their effects on students’ non-cognitive development. 

My Parliamentary colleague, Assoc Prof Jamus Lim will elaborate on the subject of class sizes in his subsequent cut.

Ministry of Education
3 March 2021

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